Escaped al Qaeda death row prisoner deported to Mauritania

An Al-Qaeda jihadist, on death row until his escape on New Year’s Eve, was sent back to Mauritania Wednesday following his arrest after he crossed the Guinea-Bissau border into Guinea, according to an airport source and images shown on national television.

Cheikh Ould Saleck, 31, and another man suspected of having helped him in his escape, were deported from Guinea to Mauritania on Wednesday evening by special flight, the source said.

Accompanied by a police convoy, the pair were whisked out of the airport in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott to an undisclosed location.

Their arrest took place on Tuesday evening about 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the town of Boke in Guinea, near the Guinea-Bissau border, a security official told AFP.

According to a gendarme at the scene one of the men opened fire on the gendarmes but missed and fired into the air to cover his escape.

“The fugitive was caught by people after they heard gunfire,” the gendarme added.

Prior to his arrest, Ould Saleck, on death row since 2011 over an Al-Qaeda plot to assassinate Mauritania’s president, was last seen by fellow inmates at Nouakchott’s central prison at midday on December 31.

His absence from evening prayers that day alerted his fellow inmates, who went to fetch him and found his cell locked.

A guard smashed open the door and found a flag of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s north African franchise, according to a prison source.

Ould Saleck’s wife and sister, who visited him often in prison, were arrested on January 4 in Nouakchott.



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